Jim Leyland announced today that he is stepping down as manager of the Detroit Tigers after eight years with the team. Leyland, 68, said he will stay with the team in some capacity, but it won’t be in the dugout.
“When it’s time, it’s time,” said Leyland at an emotional press conference. “And it’s time. It’s time to step down from the managerial position of the Detroit Tigers.”
Leyland’s Tigers, who reached the World Series last year, fell just short this year, losing to the Boston Red Sox in 6 games.
Managers have to be something close to legendary to reach the Baseball Hall of Fame, but Leyland has a strong case. Here are 5 statistics that say Jim Leyland is a hall of famer.
1. 22 Seasons, Zero Mid-Season Firings (Or Hirings)
Good managers get fired all the time, and bad managers get fired even more, but Leyland never inspired a general manager to let go of him in the middle of a season. Very few managers, especially in the modern era, can make that claim. Leyland managed every single season from beginning to end.
2. 6 First Place Finishes, 5 Second Place Finishes
Of Leyland’s 22 seasons, half ended with his team finishing in first or second place. The first place finishes came on a pair of three-peats. Leyland’s Pittsburgh Pirates won their division every year from 1990-1992 and the Tigers have won the A.L. Central the last three years. Those second place finishes weren’t wasted either: The 1997 Florida Marlins took the N.L. wild card under Leyland and went on to win the World Series. Leyland almost did it again with the 2006 Tigers, who took a wild card berth to the World Series, but were defeated by the Cardinals.
3. 1,769 Wins, 1728 Losses
Leyland slogged through with some terrible Pirates’ teams before and after their three-year reign. He won 92 games and the World Series with the Marlins, and then watched their management sell off any recognizable player, and the team lost 108 games under Leyland the next year. Despite all that, and with the help of some of shrewd moves by the Tigers’ management, Leyland finished 41 games over .500 for his career. Those 1,769 wins make him 15th all time, and, until today, the winningest active manager.
4. 3 Manager of the Year Awards, 3 Second-place Finishes
Leyland won the Manager of the Year award for two of his monster Pirates teams (1990, 1992) and for the 2006 Tigers. He took second place for the other Pirates division winner (1991), the Pirates team that was starting to show its greatness before they came into their own (1988) and his first division winner the Tigers (2011). He received votes in five other years. Leyland won both in the typical way—for guiding the most improved team—and for managing a great team full of egos (the Bonds/Bonilla Pirates).
5. 1 World Series, 3 Pennants
A World Series win does not make a Hall of Fame manager, but it’s nice to have one on the resume when you’re making the case. Leyland could have easily had two or three more World Series rings. His 1992 Pittsburgh Pirates lost a major upset to the Atlanta Braves. His 2006 Detroit Tigers were heavily favored, but ran into a Cardinals team high on momentum (the Tigers also had a long break between the ALCS and World Series that year, which some players said made them rusty). Last year could have meant another World Series title for Leyland, but he ran into a similarly hot Giants team. So who did Leyland win with? The 1997 Florida Marlins. It makes for a good trivia question however you frame it. Which team did Jim Leyland win a World Series with? Or: Who was the Marlins manager when they won the World Series in 1997.
Answer: Probably Hall of Famer Jim Leyland.